Tuesday, October 13, 2009  
   Volume 79 - Issue 41 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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Quote of the Week
“I’m very disappointed in the division in the way they handled this.”
- Richard Milford  
- on school bussing   
   

 

Looking Back - John KinnearGrowing up in Coleman I was repeatedly warned about going down to the east side of town. “Don’t you dare go across the tracks. If you do those Bushtown boys will get you!” As I grew older I came to know Bushtown for what it really was. That is, a rich melting pot of wonderful European cultures like Polish, Ukrainian and Czechoslovak. I came to love the people there that were tough enough to live downwind from the tipple. Names like Liska, Ballak, Musial, Baruta and Sikora are but a few that come to mind. Coal miners and their families as fine as you would ever want to meet.
It was never easy for most of them down by the river in the early years. There was a lot of hardship, hard work and heartache. Tough times, especially during the depression when all were tested severely.
It is against this backdrop, in this typically segregated section of an early coal mining town, that author Joseph L. Lothian unfolds his historical fiction novel “The Grasshopper”.  It is centered around one Mykola Krushelitznicki, an awkward young Ukrainian boy whose early years are a weave of poverty, frustration and heartache. Kola, as he comes to be known , eventually enters the coal mines as a young teenager looking to become a man, help his fatherless family survive their abject poverty and gain some independence.  A terrible incident happens to him and his close boyhood friend while they are in the mine and that drives him away from his roots and takes him to Vancouver Island. There he starts a new life where he finds both love and heartbreak.
It is the conclusion to this book that brings the story full circle where Kola, as an aged man in a senior’s home is forced by a tortured conscience to confront that moment in time that caused him to leave his home.
Joe Lothian traps you right from the start of the story and draws you relentlessly through Kola’s thirty six chapters of vivid reminiscences with the skill of a seasoned novelist. A former Bushtown resident Rose Watson, now from Fernie, could not put The Grasshopper down and only slept after she had read the last line.
While the novel does not specifically name local geographical features as we know them one can recognize where one is at any given moment in Kola’s early years.
 
Whether it is fishing down by the river, wandering around the coke ovens or up the path used by the miners to get to work, you know all too well where you are and therein lies one of the secrets of The Grasshopper’s charm. He puts you into familiar territory.
You remember and indentify with things like those awkward school moments, the second hand clothes, the stratified town society, swiping horses for a joy ride or sneaking into the arena’s back door. You are bound to follow where Kola goes right to the very end.
Lawrence Chrismas, author of a number of books of coal miners’ photographs and stories, was principle in helping bring Joe Lothian’s Grasshopper to the public through Cambria Publishing. Mr. Chrismas has done important photo documentary work in the Pass and shared it with us through his award winning book “Coal Dust Grins”.
In order to make this important book known to the public Lawrence has arranged with the Crowsnest Museum to hold a book signing there on October 16th at 5 PM. Wine and cheese followed by some readings and stories by author Lothian will be the order of the day. Here is your chance to meet this remarkable man who at 81 years of age has proven once again that you are never too old to follow a dream.
Joe was born in the Pass in 1928 just three months after his father George and another miner were killed in the International Mine. His family has mined coal for generations from the pits of Belgium, Wales, Nova Scotia and Alberta. While the characters in The Grasshopper may be fictional, the mining descriptions, situations and hardships are real.
It is said that every one of us has a book in them and if that’s true and they all could be as remarkable as the Grasshopper the world would certainly be full of remarkable reading. So please join us Friday, October 16 at 5 PM at the museum where you can meet Mr. Lothian and step back in time. Copies of his book will be available there and at the Frank Slide Interpretive Center gift shop.
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   Volume 79 - Issue 41 Website:www.passherald.ca   email: passherald@shaw.ca   $1.00   
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